Flexible Working - Employment law update

Many businesses and their employees find that flexible working can have many benefits both to the organisation and the workers.

Flexibility can be related to location, hours or other contractual arrangements.

Employees will have various reasons for requesting flexible working such as to reduce time spent commuting, manage caring responsibilities or increase time with friends and family.

Flexible arrangements are particularly popular with parents and carers and a study by Deloitte in 2017 found that organisations that were open to flexible arrangements were more likely to have loyal employees.

Employer concerns

On the other hand, managers and business owners may find that accommodating requests for flexible working and managing more dispersed workforces can be difficult.

Employers may be concerned that if their people are working remotely, even if it is just short term for a particular project, it can be a challenge to ensure they meet the same standards as their onsite staff and that all their employees are treated fairly.

Even calculating holiday entitlement for flexible workers can be very tricky.

Some employers may be concerned that they can’t say “No” to a request for flexible working especially if a precedent has been set by granting flexible working to other employees in the past.

However, the law around the right to request flexible working centres on business reasons.

If there is a good business case that justifies refusal then the request can be refused but it is important to write to the employee and clearly set out the justification behind the decision.

Being careful

Employers should be careful to ensure that they are being fair about who is, and is not, able to work flexibly in order to avoid indirect discrimination.

For example, a recent case involving XC Trains found that the company’s requirement that a female train driver work a roster that included Saturdays and other shifts that were contrary to the family-friendly shifts she had requested, was discriminatory.

Likely to become more popular

It is likely that with modern working patterns and the increase in project-based and freelance work, flexible working requests will become more common and employers will find themselves in a position where they are juggling the needs of their business, treating all their employees fairly and keeping on the right side of employment legislation.

Getting help

If you need any help with employment law issues do get in touch with Daniel Zakis at our Solihull office on 0121 705 7571.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.